TRURO — The Interstate 35 girls basketball team used plenty of freshman firepower to earn a 73-55 win over Central Decatur here on Dec. 10.
Trailing 28-26 at halftime following a Hallie Linhart runner at the buzzer, Roadrunner head coach Jamie Smith decided to go to a box-and-one defense against Linhart in the second half.
The Central Decatur junior had scored 15 points in the first half. But, the defensive change made points harder to come by for Linhart, as she scored just seven second-half points and found herself in foul trouble.
“We had practiced triangle-and-two, diamond-and-one and box-and-one, just in case we felt like we might need it,” Smith said. “Happened to work out for us. We thought maybe in the second half we might use it, and it kind of sparked us there the first two or three minutes.”
Caylin Brommel circled through the lane for the first basket of the second half, and then freshman Slye Richardson hit a jumper from the wing and a free throw to give the Roadrunners a 31-28 lead.
After Linhart hit 1-of-2 free throws, Richardson knocked down a 3-pointer to make it 34-29.
Central Decatur eventually tied the score at 36-36 on a Linhart bucket and one, but the Roadrunners closed the half on an 11-1 run capped off by another Richardson 3-pointer to take a 47-37 lead into the fourth.
“Slye’s a good shooter,” Smith said. “If you give her just an inch, she’ll take it.”
Richardson finished with a game-high 26 points in addition to seven assists. Fellow freshman Riley Morris added 15 points with 10 rebounds for her second consecutive double-double. Gracey Griglione grabbed eight rebounds.
“Gracey got in a little bit of foul trouble, and that’s a little bit of a learning experience,” Smith said about the 6-0 freshman. “Riley has been improving. That’s the second game in a row she’s had a double-double.
“And I give a lot of credit to the subs and the seniors that came in,” he continued. “Nicole Bowden hit two big 3s, a big three-point play by Caylin Brommel. Brooke (Brommel) and Charlie (Rupp), those kids are giving up any kind of offense by having to dog (Lydia) Martin and Linhart the whole game.”
The Roadrunners shot 12-of-14 at the free throw line in the final 3:44 of the game to hold off any hopes of a Central Decatur rally.
After the Roadrunners lost three tough road contests to open the season, Smith said things have begun to turn around for his young squad.
“After the first three (games), I kind of wondered if that was the right move or not, getting beat by three good teams all on the road,” he said. “The kids responded to what we’re doing. They’ve believed in what the coaching staff has said. We said it would get better, and it has gotten better.
“We get better every day, and again, that pressure, I think, has helped us,” he continued. “Central Decatur comes at you 84 feet, and I thought we did a good job of taking care of the ball.”
The Roadrunners improved to 3-3 with the win and 2-0 in Pride of Iowa Conference play. Central Decatur, meanwhile, dropped to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in conference play.
In Interstate 35’s first game after the big win over Central Decatur, Griglione recorded one of the biggest games in school history in a 50-27 win over Wayne on Friday.
The freshman post player broke a school record with 11 blocks in the win. She also recorded the second triple double in school history, finishing with 15 points, 11 blocks and 10 rebounds.
As a team, the Roadrunners broke a single-game school record with 16 blocked shots.
Richardson added eight points with six assists and six steals in the win, while Morris scored seven points with seven boards and three blocks. Rupp netted five points with four boards and three steals.
The win improved the Roadrunners to 4-3 overall and 3-0 in conference play.